Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year

I won't be sad to see the back of the weather we've had in 2012, apparently, it's been the wettest year in England on record. I suppose it's only fitting then that we should have rain today to see the old year out, but I'm hoping for better things from 2013.

I've got great expectations for 2013, so it's nice to see that the bulbs I planted in autumn are already pushing through the soil. I'm looking forward to having some colour back in the garden, so I'm eager for them all to bloom. These are the crocus - Cream Beauty, but the iris - Retuculata and daffodil - Carlton are poking through too. I wonder if an early display is on the cards.

I'd like to thank everyone who has popped by my blog this year, especially those of you who come back to read more of my ramblings, and also leave comments, it's very much appreciated. I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2013. Happy New Year, everyone.

Monday, 24 December 2012

An Unusual Visitor

We recently had an unusual visitor to the garden, a little Coal Tit. I noticed him eating from the feeder with the sparrows so I snapped him through the window. We don't often get Coal Tits in the garden, so it's always nice when one does visit.

Thank you to everyone who entered my little giveaway to win a RHS diary. A draw was made this morning, and the name pulled out of the hat was A Whole Plot OF Love. Congratulations, and if you'd like to email me your address, I'll get the diary in the post so that it, hopefully, arrives in time for the new year.

I wish everyone who pops by my blog a very merry Christmas.

Monday, 17 December 2012

I'm Giving Away A Year

That's right, I'm giving away a whole year, in the form of a RHS desk diary. It has one week to view on one page, and an illustration on the facing page.

The diary showcases the work of eight women artists, some were professional artists who illustrated books and magazines, some kept their work, which was later donated to the RHS, private.

It's a beautiful diary, but as I've gone back to using a Filofax, it wouldn't get used, which would be a shame.

If you could make use of the diary, and would like to give it a home, please leave a comment on this post before next Monday, Christmas Eve. I shall pick a name at random and get the diary in the post straight after Christmas so that it will arrive in time for the new year.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Not Much To Look At

I've never been particularly successful with my leeks. In past years, I've had spindly, thin specimens which have hardly put on any growth. I sowed my leeks earlier this year in the hope that this would allow them extra time to bulk up, but as you can see, they're still not up to much. Despite appearances, they're still extremely tasty. The only problem with small leeks is that you need to use far more in one dish than you would if they'd fattened up. I usually grow Musselburgh leeks but next year, trying to get them growing larger, I'm growing Autumn Giant 2 - Argenta. The name alone suggests that they should grow large. The packet states that they're thick, high quality, long and very heavy stems, so I hope these do well for me.

Apart from the leeks, the only other thing growing at the allotment now are three parsnips. I think I made three sowings of parsnips this year, yet all that germinated were these three. I'm hoping that they're growing well under the ground as I really need to make the most of them, having so few. I'd like to have them with Christmas dinner, but I think I'll also buy some from the shop, just in case my own aren't up to much as I'd hate to be without. It wouldn't be Christmas dinner without parsnips.

We've had some severe frosts this week and it's taking quite some time to clear the car windows on a morning. The soil in the containers which my bulbs are planted in has been frozen on more than one occasion, so I was surprised to see some shoots from my Iris Reticulata. They must be tough little things.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

The Digging's Been Put On Ice

I did make it down to the allotment at the weekend, but it was just as well that I was only going for a look round as I definitely wouldn't have been able to get any work done, the ground was frozen solid. As the photo shows, the standing water on the plot had turned to ice. This is the part of the allotment where we're going to lay another drainage pipe, to direct excess water away from the plot. It's not much good as it is at the moment as crops planted in this area just flood. The frosty days haven't let up since the weekend and it looks unlikely that I'll get any more winter digging done.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was going to be trying some different varieties of veg next year, so I thought I'd mention the cucumbers which I'm going to have a go at. I'm never particularly successful with cucumbers, so I'm going to hedge my bets next year and give three different varieties a try. The first is one I've grown before, Crystal Lemon. It's a round variety and grew well for me last time, producing lots of fruit. The second is Mini Munch, a variety which produces mini fruit, which will be good as there's only me and the tropical fish who eat cucumber in our house. The third variety is Fanfare. This is an outdoor variety which has a bushy habit and is ideal in containers, so will be good to grow on the patio. I'm hoping that by trying different varieties which grow in different ways, at least one will do well for me. I often wonder why cucumber seed is so expensive compared with other seed. I bought these three packets in the Wyevale sale for 50p per packet, but their usual combined selling price would have been £9.13. It's not as though you get plenty of seeds in the packs either, both the Mini Munch and the Fanfare only contain four seeds in each packet.

The broad beans I sowed a few weeks ago have germinated well. Only three seeds out of thirty six haven't germinated, so I should get a much bigger harvest next year than I had from my dozen plants this year. Bring it on.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Packing A Punch

My wild strawberry plant just isn't giving up this year, it's still blooming away. I only have one plant, so I don't get many berries from it, though those which I do get are extremely tasty. The flavour of the small, sweet fruit explodes in the mouth and gives a real punch. This plant is in my garden, but I'm considering growing more of these plants at the allotment, as the tiny fruit is ideal to add to a morning bowl of cereal.

I'm hoping to get down to the allotment this weekend, just to check things over. It will be my first visit for quite some time, it's just been so wet lately. I've got some leeks in the ground, but that's it. Last year, I did really well with brassicas over winter, but the plants I was trying to raise this year all got eating by slugs at the seedling stage and I never got round to sowing any more. I really must do better next year.

I think we can safely say that no fruit will develop from the wild strawberry flower, it's far too cold now.  The temperatures have plummeted this week and I've heard it mentioned that we're due to have our coldest winter for 100 years. Not only that but some experts are expecting the temperatures to drop as low as minus 20C during December and January. Goodness, I may have to invest in some thermals, I hate being cold.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

And So It Starts Again

It isn't long after one gardening season finishes that I start getting the urge to sow seeds again. I've already had the longing this year, so I decided that I would start some broad beans off in pots, which I'll plant out in spring. They've been on the windowsill in the unheated conservatory, but I shall move them in to the cold greenhouse to overwinter in there. The variety I've chosen is Aquadulce Claudia. Last year was the first year I'd grown broad beans, so I only raised a dozen plants as I was unsure if we'd like them. We did enjoy them, so this year I've sown three dozen plants and hope to get a decent harvest from them.

Back in March 2010, Hubby laid a drainage pipe down one side of our plot. Our site does tend to get rather waterlogged, to say the least, and the rest of the plots had already had this done. Since then, we've seen a remarkable improvement, though I have to say that the other side of the plot does still get standing water on it. Hubby has made the decision to install another drainage pipe, this time across the centre of the plot. It will run in to the original pipe which was laid, and hopefully, help with the area which continues to hold water. After the difference we've seen since the first pipe was installed, I'm sure it will help.

It doesn't look as though much will be getting done again this weekend. We had lots of rain yesterday, which I'm sure the plot will be hanging on to, making it too claggy to dig, and I think I've got the makings of a cold starting. I definitely won't feel like venturing out with a runny nose, I don't make a good patient.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Ebony And Ivory

I saw a gorgeous tulip display at RHS Harlow Carr when I visited last spring. There were some really dark coloured tulips in a container with cream ones and they looked really good together, so I wanted to replicate the display on a smaller scale. I've managed to find the darker ones but haven't come across any cream ones in the places I've looked. I did find these bulbs in Wilkinson's yesterday though, Tulips Single Late Queen of Night and Anemone White. They're sold together to be planted together to create an Ebony and Ivory display. Wilkinson's were selling off their bulbs at buy one get one free, so I bought two packs of the same which will give me twenty bulbs of each variety, enough for a good display. I think the tulips and anemones will look good together, something a little different.

The days are noticably cooler just lately and there isn't much flowering in the garden now. The only things hanging on are the pelargoniums, a primrose and a geranium. I really want to try and get more interest in the garden next year, things which will continue to bloom until the first frosts and extend the flowering season.

We haven't managed to get anything done in the garden or at the allotment this weekend owing to other commitments, though I doubt the digging would have got done anyway. We had rain overnight on Friday, which I'm sure will have left the plot waterlogged. It's getting rather late in the year now so I think some of the digging will be left for spring. I'm pleased that we did at least manage to get some of the plot dug over a few weeks back as there's always so many other things to be doing at the start of the year, it's always busy, so every little bit that can be done now will certainly help.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Velvety Fungi

I read a post recently on Mark's Veg Plot blog titled My insect hotel. It was all about creating a habitat in the garden for insects. I have a very small pond in my garden, and at the side of the pond, amongst the plants, I have a couple of pieces of old wood which is slowly rotting down. Insects and creepy crawlies love this type of habitat, so this is why it's there. Reading Mark's post prompted me to have a look at the wood when I was pottering in the garden this morning. On it, I noticed some unusual fungi, I haven't come across anything like this before. It's brown, and looks velvety, though I don't know if it's velvety to the touch, I didn't go that far. It's almost bubble like, but if you look at it from the back, it's hollow. I don't know much about fungi at all, but I'm fascinated with all the different types.

The grass didn't get cut at the weekend as I'd hoped it would, nor have I done any more digging over of the allotment yet. Although we haven't had much rain this week, the ground just doesn't seem to be drying out. The atmosphere seems to be damp at the moment, so perhaps this has something to do with it. I'm hoping that the rain stays away for the rest of the week, then I'll have at least some chance of getting on with these jobs at the weekend.

I've noticed that my little robin red breast is around again. He seems to go off for periods of time, but then returns, assuming it's the same robin. Whilst walking Archie this morning, I saw a few robins, they're such inquisitive little birds and don't show much fear. They allowed me within touching distance before they flew away. I must remember to put some mealworms out, that might tempt him to hang around.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Bulbs Potted Up

Every year, I say that I'm going to plant some bulbs. Many years I actually buy some bulbs, but most years I never get round to planting them. This year is an exception. I bought some bulbs on Saturday, and forced myself to get them planted up the minute I got home, otherwise they'd probably still be in their packets waiting to be put in some soil now. I saw the crocus Cream Beauty on many blogs last year and fell in love with their buttery yellow colour, so they were the first bulbs I picked up. I love iris's, and Reticulata are a miniature or dwarf type which I've wanted to grow for a number of years, so they were a must. The daffodil variety I chose is Carlton. There's so many different daffodils on the market, but I don't think you can beat a simple yellow variety. I had been looking for tulips too, but there weren't any which really took my fancy so I shall have a look for some elsewhere. We popped in to a local farm shop on the way home and they were selling 1kg nets of daffodils for £1.39. There was no variety stated, just yellow, but at that price I couldn't resist. There were twenty nine bulbs in the net. I've planted all the bulbs in containers so that I can move them near the house and enjoy their blooms in spring once they flower.

I had intended to go to the allotment yesterday, but other commitments prevailed. There's still lots of ground waiting to be dug over, and I really want to get it done before winter so that the frosts will break the soil down. I need to make an effort to get down there as soon as possible to get it done.

It was a lovely morning when I took Archie for his walk. I'm glad I took him first thing as it's raining now, though it's considerably warmer today than it was at the beginning of last week. I hope we're not in for a dull, wet week.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Blooming Good

I mentioned in my last post that I had emptied the flower containers in the garden. Despite the frost which we had at the start of the week, this pot of Zonal Pelargoniums are still blooming, so they got a reprieve. As you can see, there's still buds waiting to open, but I fear it's too late for them now with the colder weather around. I bought these plants from my local nursery as tiny seedlings and potted them on until they were big enough to plant out. I've bought my bedding plants this way for a few years now, but the nursery in question has closed down this year so I may have to revert back to growing my own from seed next year. I shall definitely grow these plants again, often mistakenly referred to as geraniums, they're really hard working plants flowering all summer long. I had a bright red variety in some tall blue pots at each side of my back door, and they looked stunning, so I shall repeat this again next year.

I was hoping that the lawnmower had been put away for the last time this year, but it seems we'll have to get it out again. The grass was cut nearly three weeks ago, but it's grown so much since then that it's definitely going to have to have another mow before winter comes. That's a job that my son can do this weekend if the weather stays fine, he can earn his keep.

We had high winds at the start of the week, which have helped the lilac tree outside my window shed it's leaves. There's only a few leaves still hanging on now, which signals that winter is on it's way. With this in mind, I'm making sure that the bird feeders are kept topped up, firstly so that the birds are well fed ready to take on the cold months ahead, and also so that they know where to come to get a regular meal. Suet blocks are a favourite and are devoured in no time at all.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

A Wildlife Garden

I always try to garden with wildlife in mind. Next year, I'm hoping to attract even more bees, butterflies and birds to my garden with the seeds which I picked up in the Wyevale sale. Suttons do a Wildlife Attracting Collection, in fact, they do two, so I picked up one of each. In one pack there's Lavender - Provence Blue, Honesty - Mix, Sweet Rocket - Mix, Aster - Single Mix and Sunflower - Tall Yellow. In the other pack there's Marigold - Corn, Daisy - Ox-eye, Pansy - Wild, Scabious - Field and Poppy - Field. At only 50p per pack, I think I got a good deal and I hope to have lots of colour in the garden as well as lots of wildlife.

The garden has just about been put to bed for winter now. The greenhouse has been cleared out and all the tender plants have been moved in there. Containers have been emptied of their summer blooms, and the compost from them has been taken to the allotment to improve the soil in the beds down there. The rabbit hutches usually get moved down from the grass on to the patio for winter, but I'd decided to leave them where they are for this year. I think that may have been a bad idea as the grass is already getting muddy, so I may have a change of heart on this.

The weather has changed wintery over the last couple of days. We had our first proper frost yesterday morning, the car even had to be de-iced, but it was a lovely clear day. Another frost has followed this morning so I think it's time to get the gloves and scarf out.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Planning For Next Year

I haven't yet shown you the seeds I purchased in the Wyevale sale, so I thought I would do that today. It isn't actually called Wyevale any more, it's The Garden Centre Group, and they usually have a sale just after the August bank holiday where they reduce all their seeds to 50p per packet. I'm never one to resist a bargain, so I stock up for the following year. This year, I bought some old favourites such as climbing French bean - Blue Lake, dwarf French bean - Safari, pea - Early Onward and courgette - Parthenon, but I also came away with lots of other vegetable varieties which I haven't tried before. I'll tell you more about those at a later date, but it will be interesting to see how they do compared to varieties which I've grown in the past.

As well as the seeds I bought in the sale, I've also put an order in with the allotment association. I've usually bought my seed potatoes from the local nursery, but it closed down this year so I thought I would see what the association had to offer. I've never bought from them in the past, and was pleasantly surprised at what I found when I made enquiries. It turns out that quite a few allotment holders had ordered Arran Pilot, the variety of my choice, from the association so they'll be able to buy in bulk and cut costs. I won't know exactly how much they'll be until they're delivered, but it seems it will be cheaper than I'm used to paying. The association also runs a seed scheme where I'm able to order from Kings Seeds at a discounted price, which is very competitive. I've ordered a few packets of things I'm missing, and both the potatoes and seeds will be available for me to collect in the new year.

Now that we're at the end of one growing season, I'm itching to get going again. With this in mind, I've made the decision to have a go at growing onions from seed again next year. I can't really make a comparison between seeds and sets from my experience this year as it turned out to be so bad, weather wise, so I'll give growing from seed another chance. It means that my growing season will get off to an early start as seed should be started off early in the year. I may even get them going in the period between Christmas and New Year so they can get a long growing period. I shall still put some sets in next year as well, I learnt my lesson this year and now I'm without onions.

Just to let you know, Archie was back at the vets yesterday and his infection has now cleared up. He's such a happy little dog again, which makes me very happy too.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Back To Business

You may remember that back in September, I removed all the tomatoes from my plants and brought them indoors to ripen on the windowsill. They were just refusing to turn red on the plants, so I thought that this would be the best course of action. They've ripened well indoors, and I haven't missed out on that lovely home grown tomato taste, which I thought I might this year. The photo shows just some of the varieties I grew this year, Incas, Tigerella, Tangella and Black Cherry. I'm not sure which variety the larger red tomato is, it could be either Pannovy or Ferline. Other varieties I grew this year were Gardener's Delight and Eleanor. I got tomatoes off each plant I grew, but nowhere near as many as I've had in previous years. I'll be growing some of my favourites again next year, along with some new varieties. I'd like to grow more bush type plants, they seem a little less work than cordons, where you have to tie in and remove side shoots.

I thought I was only going to get one squash this year. When Hubby went to the plot last weekend, he saw another three smaller Sunburst squash on the plant. As cold nights were predicted, he removed them and brought them home. We didn't know if they'd be mature enough, but I prepared them for tea on Monday. As I cut in to one of them, it was rather mushy, so that wasn't used, but the other two gave us another small taste, and I've made my mind up that I shall definitely grow them again next year.

The lawn was cut last weekend. We hoped it would be the last time it would need doing before winter, but it's growing away again already. Perhaps the cold weather we're experiencing at the moment will slow it down somewhat. Can you believe that we woke up to snow yesterday? It was only a very light covering, and it melted in no time, but it was really cold all day.

I'd just like to thank everyone again for all the comments I received on my last two posts. This past week has been a bit emotional, to say the least, and every comment was very much appreciated. Archie seems to be doing well at the moment. He's perked up in himself, but has to take antibiotics and anti inflammatories for another week, and he'll be going back to the vets on Friday. Thank you again for all the thoughts which were sent his way.

Friday, 26 October 2012

A Heartfelt Thanks

Thank you to everyone who has sent their good wishes our way for Archie.

We've been back to the vets today and a tumour has been ruled out. He's got a really, really bad infection in his anal glands, but it looks as though he's turned a corner now. He's just about back to his cheeky self today, and I'm over the moon.

I'm a true believer in positive thinking, and I know that so many of you have sent your good wishes, prayers and positive vibes this way that I can't help but feel it's helped. Thank you so, so much.

Back to gardening very soon!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

A Little Off Topic

I do try to keep the posts on this blog to gardening, after all, I have my Through The Keyhole blog for anything else I want to blog about, but I didn't think you'd mind me making this post.

Since suffering from Cancer twelve years ago, I'm a firm believer in positive thinking, so I want to ask you all to send some thoughts for Archie. He's unwell at the moment, so I took him to the vets yesterday. We've got to wait until next week to see if the tablets he's taking at the moment do anything for his condition, but if not, further investigations will need to be made. I've been told that it could be a tumour, so as you can imagine, this news has knocked the whole family for six.

He's due back at the vets at the beginning of next week so I should know more then, but in the meantime, all your positive thoughts for his speedy recovery would be very welcome.

Friday, 19 October 2012

What's Up, Doc?

After last year's success with sowing carrots in the old bath on the allotment, we didn't think we'd have any problems this year. Cue rain and slugs. Even those seeds which managed to germinate were munched to the ground. We decided to make a late sowing in a container in the garden, and though we kept watch, the growth above ground wasn't very vigorous. We didn't have high hopes for what was going on underneath the soil but it came to the point where we had to bite the bullet and pull them up. We were right in our thinking, there wasn't much there. The photo shows the extent of the 2012 carrot crop. Oh well, like everything else, we'll give it another go next year.

I posted about the patty pan squash - Sunburst, in my last post. We ate it on Monday as an accompaniment to chicken stew; diced chicken with potatoes, swede, parsnips, carrots and dumplings, all done in the slow cooker, with mashed potatoes for me, and roast potatoes for the rest of the family, as well as French beans on the side. The preparation of the squash was simple, just cubed and drizzled with oil, then roasted in the oven. We all enjoyed it, so it is a definite for growing next year.

The weather is so unpredicatable at the moment. We can get up to a dark, damp day, but by mid morning, it's turned in to a gorgeous, bright autumnal day. I'm hoping for lots of sunshine over the weekend.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

The One And Only

I've managed to get one squash to maturity this year. This is Sunburst, a patty pan variety. There's lots more on the plant but I doubt they'll grow large enough to eat now that the colder weather has arrived. It's a shame that they took such a long time to get going, I think the plant would have provided us with lots of fruit if only it had started producing earlier. I've never eaten this type of squash before so I'm looking foward to trying it.

The beetroot which were transplanted in to the old bath on the allotment have come to nothing. That's another failure this year, though I probably shouldn't have waited so long to start some seeds off at home and transplant once they got going. I've always sown them direct in the past and haven't had a need to do this, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I've had to do lots of things differently this year.

Hubby is in the middle of taking all the spent compost from the containers in the garden to the allotment to empty on to the beds there. It's surprising how much compost we actually use in containers, but once it's been used it doesn't go to waste, it's a great soil improver at the plot, and some of it is recycled and used again.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

A Sweet Discovery

You may remember that at the start of the season, I christened this year The Year Of The Sweet Corn. This is my fourth year growing veg on the allotment, and even though I've tried growing sweet corn every year, I've had no success. I used to grow it in containers in the garden with no problems at all, so I just couldn't understand why I was failing every year on the allotment. At the start of the growing season, I decided that I would lavish my sweet corn with lots of care and attention and do my best this year to change the outcome I've had for the past three years. Of course, I didn't realise at that point that we were going to have such a cold, wet summer, something which sweet corn doesn't particularly like. The plants produced cobs, as well as tassels and silks, but I couldn't feel anything inside the cobs at all so I thought this year would be much the same as the previous three. Imagine my surprise when I peeled back the covering on the cobs and discovered that there was something there. So they're not full cobs, only the ends had been pollinated, but it's more corn than I've managed to grow yet at the allotment, so I'm going to call it a success of sorts. I'll be able to remove the individual kernels from the cobs, and as there's only myself who likes sweet corn, it should last for a few meals.

 It's a shame that the season won't last a little bit longer as both the Uchiki Kuri and Sunburst squash are making some attempt to fruit. It's so late though now that I doubt they'll mature. The courgettes are starting to slow down a little now, as are the runner beans. I only managed one picking of the dwarf French beans, but I've had several from the runners so it was certainly worth doing a late sowing.

It's been a bright, sunny day today, but it's rather cold. I've noticed lots of berries on the trees, which some say is an indication of a harsh winter. Surely we're due a let up in the weather after the summer we've just had, a mild winter would be nice this year.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Champions They're Not

I decided that I would have a go at growing onions from seed this year. In hindsight, I don't think it was the year to be trying anything new with everything the weather has thrown at us. I chose Bedfordshire Champion, but was rather late in both starting the seed off and also in planting the seedlings out, which probably contributed to the poor outcome, along with the cold, wet conditions in which they were grown. They hardly grew at all in the earlier months, then seemed to put on a bit of a spurt towards the end. I don't think you can really tell in the photo, but they're not much bigger than golf ball sized. I'm unsure at the moment whether I'll have another go at growing from seed or if I'll go back to growing from sets.

The runner beans have finally started to produce enough to get a decent picking each time I visit the allotment. I doubt if they'll go on producing much longer now that the weather is much cooler, but I'm really enjoying them while they last. I've even managed a picking from the late sown dwarf French beans too. It's such a shame that I haven't managed to freeze any beans for later use, I'm just pleased to have managed to get any sort of harvest after the disastrous start I had at the start of the season, with slugs munching everything in sight.

One thing which is producing well, now that the plants have got going, are the courgettes. There's plenty to pick on each visit to the allotment, it's just a shame that there's only me who really enjoys courgettes in our house. Even my mum and dad aren't keen, so I can see lots of meals incorporating courgette in my future.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

The Last Of The Potatoes

This is the last of the potato harvest for this year. They've been grown in containers, but I thought I'd better empty what was left as frost had been forecast in various parts of the country and I didn't want them to spoil. As it happened, we didn't get a frost, but better to be on the safe side, especially this year, the weather's been very strange indeed. I've been really pleased with this variety, Arran Pilot, and I'll definitely grow them again next year. I also grew a couple of containers of Nicola but I wasn't so keen on them. They weren't so flavoursome nor did they give a very good yield. I shall probably try a few tubers of a different variety alongside the Arran Pilot again next year.

Just for reference, I'd like to record that it wasn't until the 21st of September this year that I ate my first home grown tomato. All the green fruit which I harvested last week is now spread out in seed trays on the windowsill in the conservatory. There's five trays in total and the tomatoes in one of the trays are just about ripe now, the rest of the fruit still has some way to go, but laying them out on a windowsill looks to be working.

It's a lovely sunny day today but we've had some terrrible rain this week. There's flooding in some parts of Yorkshire, though luckily, it hasn't affected us here. I'm wondering what else the weather will throw at us this year.

Friday, 21 September 2012

The Tomato Harvest

This is my full tomato harvest for 2012. In total there's eight and a half pounds of mostly green fruit, though some are just starting to ripen. This is from a total of eleven plants, which isn't great. None of the plants, six in the greenhouse and five on the patio, produced as much fruit as is normally the case. I decided to remove the tomatoes from the plants as the weather has come so cool that there's little hope of them ripening in situ now, I shall lay them all out on a windowsill and hope that a few more turn red. I'm not a lover of chutneys so I don't know what I'll do with them if they refuse to ripen. Tomatoes are my favourite things to grow so this year has been very disappointing.

On my last visit to the allotment, I noticed that I have a Uchiki Kuri squash growing. It's a little smaller than tennis ball sized but seems to have shot out of nowhere, I didn't see it when I last looked. It's a shame that it's so late in the season as it's bound to come to nothing now. I shall have a go at growing squash again next year. I don't have any seeds left from this year so I will have fun looking at all the different varieties again and making my choices. There's so many different kinds to choose from, and many look so different, I'm sure they'll all taste different too.

We've got rain today and it's got really cold over the last few days, especially on an evening. Frost has been forecast in some parts of the country, and here was I hoping for an Indian summer.

Monday, 17 September 2012

It's A Start

The late sowing of runner beans is starting to produce at last. This might seem a small harvest, but it's very welcome after the poor year we've had, and they'll go down very well with the roast chicken dinner I'm cooking tonight. I had decided not to grow runner beans this year, opting instead for French beans, but things didn't go to plan when just about everything got munched by slugs at the start of the season. In the end, I decided that I'd sow some runner beans after all, other people have had lots of success with them in the rainy weather we've had. They were sown very late and I didn't know if I'd manage a harvest from them at all before the weather turned, but providing the weather stays on an even keel for a little longer, there should be plenty more to come. The plants are literally dripping with lots of tiny beans. It isn't only the runner beans either, at the same time as these beans were sown, I decided to give French beans one last try this year, and although I haven't harvested anything from those plants as yet, there's plenty of beans growing.

The tomatoes have had a reprieve. I was all for taking the green fruit off the plants at the weekend and having a go at ripening them indoors, but more of the tomatoes on the Gardener's Delight plant in the greenhouse are now starting to colour up, as are a couple of the tomatoes on the Tigerella plant outdoors. I shall see what happens this week and if not much progress is made, I'll remove them at the weekend.

Hubby has spent some time at the allotment this weekend clearing beds and digging the ground ready for winter. We always seem to fall behind at this time of year, the bad weather creeps up on us before we know it, and then we're always behind when spring arrives. It would be nice to get ahead of the game this time.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Starting To Turn

At long last, the first couple of tomatoes are starting to ripen. This is Gardener's Delight, usually a guaranteed performer, but not this year with the weather being how it is. This plant is in the greenhouse, along with five other tomato plants, and I also have five plants outside too, but these are the only ones which show any sign of colour, all the other fruit is staying resolutely green.

I'm now getting a couple of courgettes to harvest each time I go to the allotment. It's not the glut I've had in previous years, but a steady supply is welcome nontheless. I've noticed in previous years that the yellow varieties I've grown never seem to produce as many courgettes as the green varieties, and it's the same again this year.

The weather's turned much cooler today and there's a strong wind to boot, though the sun is still shining through the showers. I think autumn is definitely knocking on the door.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012


My best crop this year is without doubt the potatoes I've grown in containers. I first grew this variety, Arran Pilot last year, and was impressed not only with the flavour and yield, but also the fact that the potatoes don't turn to mush when boiled. I decided to grow the same variety again this year, and can see that it will be one I grow most years as I think it would take some beating. I started out with fifteen containers and started emptying them on the third of June. I've given lots to my mum and dad as well as harvesting them regularly to eat ourselves, and there's still five containers left to empty. You can see all the compost used to fill a container in the photo. This doesn't go to waste after the potatoes are harvested as it's used to improve the soil at the allotment.

I'm still hoping that I might get a bean harvest this year from my late sowing. The runner beans have reached the top of their poles and the dwarf French beans have been left alone by the slugs, and both are flowering so there's hope.

We've got a sunny day here today, though it's a little breezy. The forecast is for the sun to stay around for a while so my tomatoes might decide to surprise me and turn red. I'm starting to wonder if I should take the plunge and remove the fruit from the plants to try and get them to ripen on the windowsill. I think I'll wait and see if the sunshine we're forecast does anything for them first.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Nearly Made It

The Birthday Rose nearly made it in time for my big day. It's my birthday today and as you can see, the half standard rose which Hubby bought me as an early birthday present has just about bloomed in time. The photo which was attached to the plant showed a white rose with a light pink tinge, but I'm always wary of going by these photos as the flowers themselves often look nothing like. It looks as though it might be a good likeness in this case though.

The sun is shining, for a change, and as Hubby has the day off work, and the kids aren't back to school until tomorrow, we're heading off to Bridlington on Yorkshire's east coast for the day. I hope the weather stays fine.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Beetroot In A Bath

I haven't managed to get a single beetroot to grow this year. The seeds I sowed direct at the allotment must have been washed away in the rain. I tried again to no avail. In the end I decided that I would sow some beetroot seeds in modules and transplant them. At first, they were going to be planted out in the ground, but seeing as how the carrots which were sown in the old bath at the allotment got eaten by slugs, I decided to plant them there. In the meantime, three seeds have germinated in the ground. The plants in the old bath look ok, but I think it's a little late to expect much from them now. If they get to golf ball size I'll be happy.

I've been looking for some purple sprouting broccoli seedlings but the garden centres all seem to do big tray fulls and I only want a few plants. One of the local markets usually sell them, but they haven't got any this year. I'm missing my local nursery already.

My tomatoes are still refusing to ripen, it's been a terrible year for them. I've got more fruit on the plants now but nowhere near as much as usual. I've decided that I'm going to have another go at growing some outdoors again next year, I don't think the results I've got this year will be typical so I'll give it another shot.

Monday, 27 August 2012

A Tight Squash

My squash plants are vying for freedom. They've put on lots of green, lush growth, I expect at the cost of fruit, and the bed is looking very full. The Uchiki Kuri squash has a couple of small fruits, but the Sunburst don't seem to be even trying to produce anything. Unfortunately, I think it's too late now for any fruit to come to anything so I shall cut my losses and try again next year.

The Birthday Rose which I bought in the local nursery sale last weekend looks to be coming in to flower. It's my birthday next week so that would be lovely if it's in bloom then. It's just in a black pot at the moment, but I'd like to get a nice glazed pot for it, though the problem with decorative pots is that they don't often stand up to the weather. I'll have to have a look round and see what I can find.

It's Bank Holiday Monday today, and right on cue, the rain is coming down in buckets. We went to Brimham Rocks yesterday and did a bit of bilberry picking, you can read all about it on my Through The Keyhole Blog. I'm glad that we went yesterday rather than put it off until today, the weather being how it is. I'm hoping that the weather bucks up for the rest of the week.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

There's Still Hope

I decided not to grow runner beans this year. We all favour French beans so I sowed lots of them early on in the season hoping to get a good enough harvest to freeze some for the winter months. Unfortunately, the wet summer we've had has encouraged slugs and snails to come out of hiding, and they've munched away on just about anything I planted out. The French beans came to nothing so I sowed again, but the second attempt was also in vain. I decided enough was enough, I'd better get some runner beans started, they just might do better. I believe the variety is White Lady. This photo shows what they're like now. They've just reached the top of their wigwam and now have flowers. I might still have time to harvest a crop if we get some sunshine. Incidentally, I also sowed a third batch of French beans at the same time as the runner beans and they look to be doing ok too. It's a race against time now to see if the plants will produce.

I'm now getting a steady flow of courgettes. It's not the glut I've had in previous years, but I don't mind just so long as there's something there to harvest. I've got two varieties in the ground, Mikinos which is green and Soleil which is yellow. The Soleil hasn't produced anything yet, but again, I live in hope.

Hubby has a week off work next week so I'm hoping that we'll be able to spend a little extra time at the allotment. There's so much weeding and general tidying up to do, as well as getting a patch ready for the fruit bushes I bought last weekend. The back garden is also in need a good tidy so let's hope that the weather cooperates.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Bargain Hunting

Our local nursery is closing down. It's such a shame as I've used this family run business for years, and I don't know of any other decent nurseries nearby. We've got quite a few garden centres close to where we live, but I've heard that two of those are closing down too, a sign of the times.

We visited the nursery at the weekend and as they were having a closing down sale with 50% off marked prices, managed to pick up a few bargains.

I've been wondering about adding to my patio fruit tree collection, so couldn't resist picking up a plum tree. It's a Czar which is known as a culinary plum, but with a little research I've found out that it can be used as an eating plum if the fruit is left on the tree to fully mature as the flesh becomes much sweeter. I also added another apple tree to my trolley. As I bought a red apple tree earlier in the year, I've gone for a green one this time, Golden Delicious.

I don't have much soft fruit so I thought I would remedy the situation. I bought a gooseberry, Uva-Crispa Pax, which is a red thornless variety. Gooseberries can be extremely thorny so I thought this was the best bet to avoid my arms being cut to shreds when harvesting. I also got a Tayberry which is a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry, and a rhubarb crown, variety Stockbridge Arrow.

I've had lavender in the garden for a number of years, but it's gone really woody. I was going to take some cuttings from it but seeing a lavender plant at the nursery with 50% discount, I decided to buy a new one instead. I'm still going to take some cuttings though, as I'd like to have some plants at the allotment to encourage the bees.

Last but not least, I got an early birthday present. I've been looking for a rose which I could grow in a container for a long time but I've been very fussy and haven't found one at a reasonable price which I've liked. The nursery was selling their half standard roses at half price, and I loved the variety The Birthday Rose so Hubby bought it for me. I'm looking forward to it blooming to see it's true colour as I don't think roses ever look the same in real life as they do in a photo.

All in all, I think I did really well with the bargains and I'm hoping for plenty of fruit to come. I just wish the nursery wasn't closing down, it's such a shame.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Not So Sweet Corn

This year was supposed to be my Year Of The Sweet Corn. Before I had my allotment, I successfully grew sweet corn in containers in the garden. The pots I used were buckets which were just slightly larger than normal utility buckets, and I potted up two plants to each container. Sweet corn is wind pollinated so I stood all the containers next to each other to help with pollination. Since I've had my allotment, things have gone downhill. I haven't managed to grow any decent sweet corn for the past three years, so at the start of the year I decided that I would go all out to produce some decent cobs this year. Unfortunately, the weather has conspired against me and it doesn't look as though I'll be harvesting anything decent off my plants yet again. Although the pollen bearing tassels have been produced and silks are showing, the actual plants themselves are only between a foot and two feet high and the cobs feel empty. The better weather we've had just lately may bring them on yet, but it doesn't seem likely.

Hubby has been tidying up the front garden this week. It tends to get overlooked in favour of the back garden and allotment, so it was in a bit of a state, even though there's only a small flower bed. I've had some crocosmia here for a few years now, but it just doesn't seem to want to flower, it obviously doesn't like it's situation. My son got the electric shears out and gave the hedge a good trim, it was desperate for it as it was so overgrown. All that's left to do now is weed between the block paving, a job I hate.

According to some news reports, today is supposed to be the hottest day of the year. It's typical then that it's clouded over and we've already had a few spots of rain. It's not surprising though, my son is just on his way out to play cricket. It's been the norm this year for rain to stop play.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

One Lovely Blog

I'm thrilled to bits to have been awared the One Lovely Blog award by Mum from Mum's Simply Living Blog. Thank you Mum, I'm so pleased that you enjoy reading my blog.

The award comes with a few rules.

1) Thank the person who nominated you.
Thanks again, Mum.

2) List seven things about yourself.

3) Pass the award on to fifteen blogs.

I've listed many things about myself in the past, but thought, as this is a gardening blog, that I would list seven facts about myself with a gardening twist on things.

1. My favourite gardening tool is my Felco secateurs. I managed to pick them up in Wilko's sale with a whopping 75% off. They only cost me £10.

2. Tomatoes are the thing which I enjoy growing the most.

3. My wedding bouquet had a lilac theme and included sweet peas and fresias.

4. I got my allotment in March 2009.

5. The only indoor plants I grow are orchids.

6. I always receive something in my Christmas stocking for my garden or allotment.

7. My allotment costs me £24 per year, which I think is a bargain.

I'm supposed to pass this award on to fifteen blogs but I'm going to break the rules and pass it on to just five.

Elaine from A Woman Of The Soil
Flighty from Flighty's Plot
Sharon from Wigglywoo and Chickens too
Liz from Suburban Tomato
Caro from Urban Veg Patch

I hope that you will accept the award, though I understand if you'd rather not. I just wanted to let you know that I enjoy reading your blogs.

Friday, 10 August 2012

The Start Of A Glut

I'm hoping so, anyway. It will be the only glut we get this year as everything else has failed miserably. I can't believe that at this time last year, I was filling the freezer with surplus beans, mange tout and peas ready for winter. This year, the only beans which I've managed to grow are broad beans which I've never grown before, and therefore, I only grew a dozen plants. I haven't had enough off them to squirrel any away, though I did get another good picking off them this week. I haven't had any courgettes yet, but I've got a few plants and each is now just starting to produce so I'm hoping that this is something which will do well for me.

We popped to the allotment last Sunday to check on it after our holiday and it was even worse than we feared. The shallots and red onions have rotted in the ground, and the Bedfordshire Champion onions which I grew from seed are very small, I don't think we'll get much from them. Only three parsnips have germinated from three rows which were sown, and the carrots which were sown in the old bath have been eaten by slugs. The French beans and mange tout got eaten by slugs before they even got a chance to grow and the peas never took off at all. My squash plants are still hanging in there but haven't started to flower, never mind produce fruit. The whole place is covered in weeds and will take weeks to bring back under control again. I'm finally calling it a day as far as the allotment is concerned this year. I've decided that the majority of the plot can be dug over, it will give me a head start on the preparations for winter and hopefully, we'll get a better growing year next year and I'll be all ready for it.

I'm not giving up completely. I haven't managed to get any winter brassicas growing from seed as they're something else which have been devoured by slugs, so I'm going to buy some seedlings and get them in the ground. I've also got some dwarf French bean seedlings which are looking quite healthy so I'll also plant those out, I might just catch a late crop if I'm lucky and this lovely weather continues. Why couldn't we have had a little of this sunshine earlier on in the year? It might not have come to this then.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Don't Get Excited

We came home from our holiday yesterday after having a wonderful fortnight in Cornwall. We were very lucky with the weather, it was beautiful for the duration of the first week, and although we had some rain in the second week, it didn't stop us from doing anything we wanted to do. I was straight out to the greenhouse when I got home, expecting the good weather to have brought on my tomatoes. The plants have certainly grown, and I excitedly looked for signs of tomato growth but all that's there so far is the grand total of one tomato, and as you can see, it's still a tiny thing. All hope of a decent tomato harvest is now ebbing away.

I haven't visited the allotment yet so I don't know how things have fared there. The broad beans which I harvested before my holiday were eaten with bacon and home grown potatoes, and I shall definitely grow them again next year. I'm hoping there are more to pick when I venture down there.

The tops on some of my container grown potatoes have died right back, so a couple of containers were emptied out. I got a good haul, one load for us and another load for my parents. I enjoy sharing the fruits of my labour.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

More Tomato Talk

If I could grow only one thing it would be tomatoes, even though there's other things which I prefer to eat. I don't know what it is about tomatoes, I just love choosing the varieties I'm going to grow, sowing the seed and watching them grow and produce fruit. The taste of home grown tomatoes is far superior than anything you can buy in a supermarket too, just picked from the plant and warmed a little in the sun.

My tomato growing experience this year has so far been disappointing. I started out with big hopes as this year I was going to have a go at growing lots of plants outdoors in addition to the half a dozen I grow in the greenhouse. The seeds took a long time to germinate, and once they had, the seedlings seemed to stand for weeks without putting on any growth.

The plants are now in their final positions, and the ones in the greenhouse have put on quite a bit of growth since they were potted up but none of my plants look to be really healthy specimens this year, I can only put it down to the weather. I've ended up with just five plants outdoors, I was hoping for quite a few more, but I wasn't going to pot up plants just for the sake of it. There were some really sick looking ones, and when I tipped them out of their pots to put in the compost bin, I could see that they'd hardly made any roots.

So the tomato plants I've ended up with this year are as follows. In the greenhouse I have Tangella, Pannovy, Gardeners Delight, Black Cherry x 2 and Eleanor, a variety which was bred by Kath at Vegetable Heaven. Outdoors in the garden I have Tigerella, Ferline, Pannovy and Incas x 2. The indoor plants have put on more growth than the outdoor ones, but both have just started producing their first flowers. Let's hope it's not too late for them to produce some fruit which will ripen before autumn.

We go away for a fortnight on Saturday to Cornwall so the tomato plants will be left in my dad's capable care. I'm hoping to see some tomatoes on the plants on my return.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

A Harvest At Last

At last, I've managed to harvest something from the allotment. These are the first broad beans I've grown, and they look pretty good. I remember hating broad beans when I was a child, but I think it's time to give them a go again, I'll never know if I like them now if I don't try them. I've harvested quite a few pods so there's plenty for all the family to try. I've heard that broad beans suffer quite badly with black fly but my plants haven't been touched, I haven't pinched out the tops either, it must be beginners luck.

My tomato plants are only just beginning to produce their first flowers. They're really late this year so I'm hoping that there's enough time for fruit to set and ripen, if not we'll be eating lots of green tomato chutney. I've heard weather reports that say September and October are going to be warm so perhaps we'll all get late harvests this year. I'm not holding my breath though.

My greenhouse is full of seedlings waiting to be planted out at the allotment. Most things have had to be resown this year as the first batch of veggies have succumbed to either the weather or slugs. I'm hoping that they'll get planted out at the weekend so that they can get established before we go on holiday. I've got visions of coming home to find that the same thing's happened with this next batch but there's not much I can do about that, it seems everything's conspiring against the gardener this year.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Time For Tennis

I'm not a lover of tennis, but I do love it when Wimbledon comes round each year as I know I'll be eating strawberries, one of my favourite fruits. I've created a new strawberry patch at the allotment this year and the plants haven't really got going yet, but I've got lots more plants in containers in the garden which are producing well. Hubby had started digging up and disposing of the old plants in the last strawberry bed we had at the allotment, but he's only got half of it done so far. I'm not complaining though as we're harvesting bowls full of lovely juicy strawberries from the plants which are left. Strawberry plants are supposed to be at their most productive for three to four years, after which, the amount of fruit they produce will start to dwindle. It doesn't look to be the case with these plants and I'm wondering if we've started to dig them up too soon. I think the plants which are left will get a reprieve, at least until they've given us this year's fruit.

I've started potting up my tomato plants in to their final positions. I'm really not happy with the plants this year, it took such a long time for them to put on any growth, and they don't look to be particularly strong plants. I've got quite a few varieties so it will be interesting to see if any do better than others. My plants are usually grown in the greenhouse, but I decided that I'd try some outdoor ones this year too, perhaps it's the wrong year to be trying this with the lack of sunshine we've had so far this year, but nothing ventured nothing gained. I may be eating lots of green tomato chutney come the end of the year.

It's been forecast that a month's worth of rain is expected to fall in just two days in some parts of the UK this week. It looks like it's already started here, it's been raining all morning with no sign of any let up. I'm starting to think that summer is going to pass us by this year, it doesn't look like it's ever going to arrive.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Broad Beans

My first time growing broad beans and the pods are forming. Some plants are still in flower with immature pods, but as you can see, some plants are further on. I've read about black fly attacking broad bean plants, but so far, my plants haven't been affected. I hope I'm not speaking too soon here, most other things I'm growing have been held back by one thing or another. I've only got a dozen plants, I'm hoping that I don't take too much of a liking to them otherwise I'll regret my meagre sowing, though I can always remedy that next year. I've had to stake the plants as the weather has taken it's toll and a couple of them were near to collapse, and some are still looking a little worse for wear. I'm just grateful that something on the plot is producing as so many things are a washout this year.

My allotment is looking very untidy at the moment, to say the least. I never got round to giving it an autumn dig, and some of it still hasn't seen a spade since last year, but I'm really surprised at the state of some of the other plots on the site. My next door plot neighbour usually has a really tidy plot and raises lots of healthy plants, but this year, it looks like he's given up. Weeds cover the earth and there really isn't much growing. Further down the site, another plot has weeds neck high. I think it's a sign of what's been thrown at us this year weather wise. I could easily give up, my sweetcorn hasn't grown an inch since it was planted out, the mangetout and French beans have been devoured by slugs and the weeds are in a bid for ultimate control. It's a challenge though. I might not get to harvest much this year, but it's still fun trying to get things to grow.

A few carrots have now germinated but the beetroot hasn't. I shall have to have a go at sowing them in modules before transplanting them. Hubby had a major sowing session last week, peas, mangetout, French beans and courgettes among others. I had said that we wouldn't grow runner beans this year, opting for more French beans instead, but they seem to be a none starter this year, so even runner beans have been sown. It might be a late harvest but anything's better than nothing.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Ten Minute Gardening

The rain is back with a vengeance, so I'm really pleased that I treated myself to this set of three books by Val Bourne. Not only will I have something to read whilst waiting for the next spell of half decent weather, but they will also advise me of the key tasks I can be getting on with, even if the rain gives in for just ten minutes. Each book concentrates on one aspect of gardening, vegetable growing, flower growing and fruit growing. The books are split in to months, and the essential tasks of that month are covered as well as secrets for success with crops, organic tips and snippets of interesting facts. They're the kind of books which you can delve in to when you have a few spare minutes. The recommended retail price is £9.99 for each book, but I picked them up for a mere £4.99 for all three from The Book People, a website I often use when purchasing books.

It looks like I've completely lost the French beans and mange tout which were munched by slugs. More have hastily been direct sown, but it means that my first harvest, if I manage to get that far with them, will be much later than last year. I had such a good crop of both these last year, so much so that my freezer was full of them, and we were eating them until the end of winter. I can't see me being as successful this year with such a poor start.

The squash bed has been dug over and plenty of organic matter added. I've only ended up with two varieties of squash, Uchiki Kuri and Sunburst. I was also hoping for Blue Kuri but after waiting many weeks, not one of the seeds have germinated. I've also got two varieties of courgette which will be planted in this bed, Soleil and Mikinos. I just need a break in the rain so I can get them in.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

On A Positive Note

After my last post, which was full of woe, I decided that I needed to be more upbeat, so I toddled off in to the garden to look for some good things which are happening at the moment. The first thing I came across was this Typha Minima or Mini Bulrush. I added it to my tiny pond three years ago when I first set it up, but this is the first year that it's produced the brown seed heads. Gardeners do need to be patient sometimes. I'm hoping that now it's got going,  it will produce them each year as they certainly add something to the little pond. I've also had my Caltha Palustris or Marsh Marigold since the pond was set up and that's come on leaps and bounds, in fact, it could do with a trim. It flowered profusely earlier on in the year. It's blooms are a wonderful cheery yellow and are a welcome sight in spring.

I made a new strawberry bed at the allotment this year, but I've also got lots of strawberries in the garden too. Some of them are new plants, but others were from runners off the plants which were dug up in the old strawberry bed. I'm really pleased that these new plants seem to be producing well already this year, there's lots of strawberries on the plants and I've noticed that some of them are just starting to turn red. I'm hoping for a good strawberry year.

I had a great harvest of blueberries three years ago, but they've been pretty poor for the last two years so I decided that I'd try replenishing the ericaceous compost in the pots they're growing in. I never got round to doing so, but it seems they didn't need it as it looks like it's going to be a good year for blueberries, the plants are covered in them. It won't be long now until they ripen and then it will be blueberry muffins for tea.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Tales Of Woe

We had a quick trip to the allotment last night, just to check on things as we'd had a particularly bad downpour on Sunday night. This is the sight which greeted us, lots of boggy areas. We used to get a bit of flooding on the plot when we first took it on, but Mick laid drainage pipes underneath which seems to have worked really well, until now. I think this has happened purely because of the amount of rain that fell, the main road through where we live was closed in both directions because of flooding, and even the M1 was closed in West Yorkshire overnight after flooding left debris on the carriageways. I've heard predictions that the rainy weather is going to last for another month yet. Let's hope they've got that wrong.

The climbing French beans and mangetout which are planted out against wigwams have been eaten by slugs. They've left a little bit of leaf behind so I'm hoping that they might just cling on to life and grow, but I'm not holding my breath. The beetroot still hasn't germinated, this wet, cool weather isn't doing anything to help, and only half a dozen carrots have popped their heads above the compost in the old bath.

On a brighter note, we visited Temple Newsam, a local historic estate, over the jubilee weekend. A popular feature is the Rhododendron Walk, and we visited just at the right time as rhododendrons flower in May and June so they were providing a stunning display. I wrote about our visit on my Through The Keyhole blog if you'd like to take a look.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

The First Of The Year

My mum and dad came for dinner on Sunday, roast beef and Yorkshire puddings, so I decided that I would empty out one of my potato containers so that we could have some lovely new potatoes alongside the beef. Ideally, I would have left the container a little longer to allow the potatoes more time to grow, but I was very happy with what I found. They did for Sunday dinner and the rest were eaten last night with pork chops. I usually plant two or three potato tubers in each container, and when I weighed what I harvested, I found there was around one and a half pound. I started off with a three kilogram, or six pound six ounce, bag of tubers which cost around £3.00, and I've still got fourteen potato containers in various stages of growth to empty, so I don't think I did so bad with this one seeing as how I emptied it early. They were absolutely delicious, cooked with mint and drizzled with butter, it won't do my diet any good though.

I managed to get to the allotment for a short time over the weekend. The weeds have been enjoying the weather, even if we haven't, the plot is in a bit of a state to say the least. We really need to put some work in. The sweetcorn - Sweet Bounty got planted out, and there was a little space left at the end of the bed so I planted two courgettes there. The varieties I've gone for this year are Soleil, a yellow variety and Mikinos, a green one which I haven't tried before. I finally got the onions - Bedfordshire Champion which I started off from seed planted out. I'm a little late with these but they have two chances, either grow or don't. They look to have put on some growth in their cells though, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. The beetroot which I sowed direct quite a few weeks ago never germinated. I think the seed got washed away in all the rain, so more has now been sown, and only a few of the carrot seed which was sown in the old bath on the plot has germinated, so more of that has been sown too.

You may remember that I sowed some carrot seed in containers and overwintered them in the greenhouse, hoping for an early carrot harvest this year. The tops never seemed to grow very much, and I didn't really hold out much hope for what was happening under the soil. I emptied the container out at the weekend and the carrots which had managed to grow were tiny, certainly not big enough to eat, so the rabbits got them. They enjoy the tops so they had a tasty treat. As the saying goes, you win some, you lose some.

Friday, 1 June 2012

It's Raining It's Pouring

The gorgeous weather we've had for the past week or so has broken. We've had rain here for the past two days, and things are looking a little washed out. I've got a few of these poppies in both my front and back gardens this year, though I didn't plant them, they're self sown. I don't know much about poppies, but I think this may be a Welsh poppy. It's looking very sorry for itself in the rain.

I'm hoping that the weather improves for the Jubilee bank holiday weekend as I want to spend some time at the allotment, I've still got lots of things to plant out. I also need to do some direct sowing as the beetroot I sowed quite a few weeks back didn't germinate, I think the seed got washed away in all the rain. The parsnips still need to be sown, and I also want to make some direct sowings of French beans to give me a staggered harvest.

My mum and dad are coming for dinner on Sunday so I'm going to have a little feel under the soil in one of my potato containers. If there's anything there I shall empty it, the first potato harvest of the year, which I shall boil with a little mint and drizzle with butter. I don't mind if the potatoes aren't very big, just so long as there's plenty of them. I think bit sized new potatoes are just delicious.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Chive Talkin'

I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago that I don't grow many herbs, but chives are one of the few herbs that I do grow. I enjoy chives snipped on to scrambled eggs and also in cheese sandwiches and baked potatoes, they add a light onion taste. I also grow chives for the bees which love their flowers. When I planted up my small border three years ago, I chose plants with wildlife in mind. Chives were one of the plants which made it in there, knowing how well the bees would enjoy it. Many of the plants in this border have now outgrown their space, so I'm hoping to move them in to the front garden at some point, and though the chives have put on lots of growth, it's one plant which will be staying.

In my last but one post, I told my tale of woe at the Uchiki Kuri squash seeds not germinating. When I looked at the plant label again, I realised that I'd made a mistake. It isn't the Uchiki Kuri which haven't germinated, but the Blue Kuri. I had one seed of each variety left so I sowed those and have just noticed today that the Uchiki Kuri has germinated again, but still no sign of the Blue Kuri. There's still time though so my fingers are still firmly crossed.

We've managed to get the bean wigwams up at the allotment and the Blue Lake French beans have been planted out. The Purple Teepee, which are a dwarf variety, are still waiting to go out, but I've only had a few of the Safari dwarf variety germinate, even though they were sown at the same time. I shall be sowing more French beans soon to give a staggered harvest. My sweetcorn is now ready to be planted out too, but it's bed isn't yet ready for it so that's next on the to do list.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

It's Not Looking Promising

After last year's fantastic cherry harvest, I was hoping for more of the same this year. The blossom's been and gone, and what's set doesn't look very promising, certainly nothing like last year. It's only a small tree so it's not too difficult to throw some netting over it, which I shall definitely have to do if I don't want to share the few cherries there are with the birds. It's just a case of waiting for them to ripen now.

We've finally got round to planting out the peas - Hurst Green Shaft and mangetout - Reuzensuiker. They've been languishing in the greenhouse since the end of March, so they look a little worse for wear, but I'm sure they'll soon pick up now that they've got their feet in some soil. The next things which will be turfed out will be the French beans. I'm hoping that they'll be in the ground within the next couple of days.

The allotment is in a bit of a state to say the least. Although many things I've wanted to grow have been held back by the weather, this isn't so with the weeds which have grown astonishingly well. I can see we've got out work cut out this year to bring everything back under control.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Last Year's Harvest

We had such a good onion harvest last year that we're still eating our way through them. We checked on them last weekend, and unfortunately some had started sprouting again while others had started going soft. We sorted through them and this is what we're left with. It's a shame that some have had to be composted, but overall we've done well with them. These were grown from sets, but this year I'm having a go at growing them from seed. They're still in the greenhouse at the moment but I'm hoping to get them in the ground this weekend, though they're still on the small side. They may not do very well but I won't know unless I try.

My blueberries haven't done very well for the last couple of years. I'd decided to repot them in some fresh ericaceous compost this year thinking that they may need a bit of rejuvenation, but like many things, I never got round to it. I'm pleased to say that they're covered in flowers so I'm hoping that the last two years have just been a blip and that we'll end up with lots of berries this year. Blueberry Muffins are calling.

The Uchiki Kuri squash which I sowed nearly three weeks ago now haven't germinated. They've been kept indoors on a warm windowsill along with the Blue Kuri and Sunburst squash which were sown at the same time, and which have both germinated fine. I don't usually have many problems with none germination, at least some of everything I sow usually germinates, but I've also had problems with the Tigerella tomatoes this year too. None of those germinated in the first sowing, and only two in the second batch, which actually look quite deformed. It's definitely a funny year this year. I only have one Uchiki Kuri seed left so I shall get that sown this weekend and keep my fingers crossed.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Pesky Molluscs

I've been out to the greenhouse this morning to find that seedlings have been munched away. These are, or should I say were, a couple of Salad Bowl lettuces. One looks to have a tiny bit of damage, whereas the other has been totally decimated. There's even the tell tale slime trail on the top of the compost that shows me the culprit is slugs. This isn't the only damage, the slugs have had a right old meal. All my brassicas which were doing so well have just about vanished, only stalks left where yesterday were healthy leaves. I shall have to start again.

Some of the squash which I sowed a couple of weeks ago have now germinated. These have been kept indoors on a windowsill, but I'm also pleased to see that the courgettes which I sowed four weeks ago have also germinated. I've kept these in the greenhouse, and although they've taken longer to do their thing, they should make strong, healthy plants.

The weekend has started off nice and bright, though it's a little breezy. Unfortunately, I won't be able to get to the allotment due to other commitments, but I'm hoping the weather holds out this coming week as there's lots of things just waiting to be planted out. I also need to get my parsnips sown otherwise I'm going to miss the boat, and that really won't do, parsnips are mine and my daughter's favourite.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Some Things Are Doing Well

Even though many things have been held back in the garden this year due to the cold spell we've experienced, it's not all doom and gloom. These are the potatoes which I'm growing in containers. As you can see, the foliage has reached well above the top of the container and looks nice and healthy. These are Arran Pilot, a variety I grew last year which did very well for me, but I've also got a few Nicola. I'm hoping that things are growing just as well below the soil, and that I get a decent haul.

Last weekend, I sowed my sweetcorn and squash. These are quite tender so I've kept them indoors on a windowsill rather than outside in the cold greenhouse. I'm pleased to say that most of the sweetcorn has now germinated, though I'm still waiting for any sign of the squash. It's early days yet. The sweetcorn I've gone for this year is Sweet Bounty, this is one I haven't tried before. The squash I'm growing are Sunburst, Uchiki Kuri and Blue Kuri.

It's bright and sunny today, and much warmer than it has been just lately. Ideal gardening weather, though we won't get much done as we're in the middle of decorating at the moment. It's typical that the weekend we decide to give the hall, stairs and landing a make over, the weather decides to play ball.
!-- Start of StatCounter Code for Blogger / Blogspot -->